Israelis took to the streets on Saturday night to protest the government’s proposed judicial reforms, with large turnouts reported in Haifa, Beersheva and Tel Aviv.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid told an estimated 10,000-strong crowd in Beersheva that “Israel is in the greatest crisis in its history.”
The Yesh Atid chairman continued: “A terrible wave of terrorism is hitting us, the economy is collapsing, money is fleeing the country. Here in the south, personal security is collapsing every day. Yesterday the Iranians signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia that will inject billions of dollars into their nuclear program. These are huge, historic challenges, but the government has lost interest. The only thing the government is interested in is continuing to crush Israeli democracy and the unity of the Israeli people.”
National Unity Party leader Benny Gantz tweeted that the answer to the “coup” was “protest,” writing that “hundreds of thousands of people left their homes to protest against Netanyahu’s coup d’état. We will not allow them to turn Israel into a dictatorship.”
Israeli media reported that about 20 protesters blocked Ayalon highway, a major north-south freeway cutting through the eastern part of central Tel Aviv. Three arrests were made and the protesters were dispersed, allowing police to reopen traffic.
The demonstrations have been taking place since the government was sworn in at the end of last year, with Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc having picked up 64 Knesset seats in the November election.
Organizers said that they were planning another “day of resistance” on Thursday, which is to include another attempt to block Netanyahu from traveling. The premier is scheduled to depart for Berlin on Thursday to meet with Chancellor Olaf Scholz.